Bob Dylan weighs in on fussy Dells

A little creative communication I put together for my teachers and students. I wanted to remind them of the cardinal rule of a PC: If it’s not working right, try restarting your computer. Click the picture below for my video. The link to the site I created this on is under the pic. Make your own here.

Wikipedia Mindmap – more data visualization!

Wiki Mind Map.org This is a really cool free site that’d be great to use in the classroom. You pick a topic from wikipedia and it creates an interactive mind map of the content. Click on the pluses and topics expand. You can even change the “center” topic of the map on the fly. Lots of cool stuff you could do with this and it’d be a great way to get to those visual learners that don’t respond well to outlines or even static mind maps. Too bad you can’t point it at any mediawiki site. That’d really open up some interesting options in the classroom.

Exhibit and Data Visualization

The kind and brilliant folks at MIT have come out with a new Exhibit API that allows for more flexibility and power. The bonus is that it looks good doing it. I’ve now revised my Google spreadsheet fed history example to use some of the new power. It’s here if you’re interested. In the end I opted to mimic their new presidents layout (much like I mimicked their old presidents layout). This time I had a better reason than pure ignorance of the API (I now have impure ignorance after all). Their new layout is really right in line with what I’d like to focus on this year- data visualization/interaction. The new layout has the map right their with the time line. I like that. Time and location on one easy interactive page. Add in their option to sort and hide/expand sets based on the data you define and you’ve got something really powerful that will help students make connections. A simple example is if I restrict my set to show only “explorers” then suddenly in the map and the time line things change. I notice explorers were mainly earlier and than none were born in the Americas (obvious to you and I but maybe the spark some kids need). Then I switch map views and I see that explorers […]

Magic Bullets Don’t Exist

Techlearning has an article that was passed around our school email celebrating Eight More Reasons for Technology in Education. After reading it, I’m feeling a little like the crab in the photo above. Now you may have noticed that I?m a fan of technology in education but I feel this list is, for the most part, the kind of thinking that leads people down very wrong roads. We’ve been looking for a savior for education for a while. It’s time we started realizing the savior of education must be the teacher- use all the tools available but it’s really up to them/us/you. You can read the point by point below or my summary here. Technology does nothing by itself. Technology doesn’t change teachers or how teachers teach. It simply makes certain changes easier. The sooner we stop celebrating magical techno things that don’t happen the sooner we’ll have real conversations about what needs to happen in school. Teaching with technology takes just as much work and planning as teaching without it (if not more in many situations). This is no Utopian ideal. Teachers need staff development, planning time and lots of hard work to start integrating technology into the classroom in the ways described below. Technology doesn’t make it happen- teachers do. Using technology involves the student in the learning […]

Mock Powerpoints

I don’t know who did it but there’s a great bad powerpoint version of the Gettysburg Address. It summarizes the points in an effective, and humorous way. The students would create the notes the speech makers would need, set the agenda etc. Everything a really bad business powerpoint user would need. This is a great way to really explore a famous speech or historical document. You’d have to really examine the document/speech, the speaker etc. The key would be NOT to have them present for real but demo the presentation to the class explaining why they chose certain aspects of the presentation etc. It’d be a lot of fun and require lots of deep processing to make it funny. I’d love to see a bad powerpoint version of Macbeth’s soliloquy or The Constitution etc.

Google Earth – The Next Level

I found this KMZ file the other night. It’s really the greatest Google Earth file I’ve ever seen. It’s tracking bird flu but it’s doing it through, time, space and evolution. It creates a three dimensional representation of the changing aspects of the virus as it moves from carrier to carrier and place to place. There’s a video showing what it can do and explaining things here. The source file is over here. Why am I so impressed? Mainly because it’s a perfect representation of data visualization. It shows a completely different way to use Google Earth. Who would have thought to use a geography program to track the evolution of a virus? This kind of convergence is amazing and examples like this can lead to some amazing connections. It can also lead the way for other creators to start using this application in different ways.

Evolution from Past to Future

Here are a couple gems that may or may not fit well together. First, the clip linked below of Carl Sagan narrating an animated illustration of evolution. YouTube GoogleVid (via Neatorama) Next, Alan Weisman’s new book entitled The World Without Us comes with an interesting illustration of how the world would react if human suddenly disappeared. Could spark an interesting conversation about how our species impacts the world around us. (via Yer Daily AWEsome)

Facebook Loosening Up Privacy Restrictions

  Facebook is letting non-registered users find pictures and names of private accounts owners.  See link below for official Facebook statement and the page you need to keep your pic and name truly private. This would be good information to pass around to your colleagues.  Many teachers have Facebook accounts they have made private to keep prying students at bay.  This change would give the students access that most responsible teachers try to prevent. Link to Facebook’s explanation of  the privacy change Link to page where Facebook users can (again) restrict search access. via Lifehacker

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Vocabulary- Lost in Translation

What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between 5 different languages? Lost in Translation is a fun little web page that does all that translation for you using Babelfish. Why in the world would you want to do this? Well, it’s funny and while it can become nonsense very easily, with a little effort this is a fun and interesting way to get students looking at vocabulary and language. It’s fun and easy so why not give it a shot. I type in “I love the ocean” and get- Translated to French: J’aime l’océan Translated back to English: I like the ocean – now we’ve got a synonym! Is it close enough to keep the meaning? Translated to German: Ich mag den Ozean Translated back to English: I like the ocean – ditto above Translated to Italian: Gradisco l’oceano Translated back to English: I appreciate the ocean – another synonym! I know you’re excited. Translated to Portuguese: Eu aprecio o oceano Translated back to English: I appreciate the ocean – Sadly, this worked pretty well. Translated to Spanish: Aprecio el océano Translated back to English: Esteem the ocean – Now this is a very different phrase than we started out with. Does esteem mean the same thing as love? Is “esteem the ocean” a […]